What to do if Someone is Squatting Your Name on Twitter

Photo Credit: ilevin

Perhaps you are just now getting to signing up for a Twitter account. More likely is that when you joined Twitter, you were not sure what you were going to do with this space so you chose a name you are less than excited about now. Many people choose a nickname or a confusing combination of numbers and letters, and find that it’s not appropriate to be using for marketing their business.

So what happens when you find a username you want and someone else is using it? Even worse, what happens when someone has your company name and they aren’t even using the account?

Name squatting is against the Twitter rules. Unfortunately there is little Twitter can do about the inconvenience unless you are covered under the terms of service or if someone is impersonating you. If you have your name trademarked you can email terms@twitter.com to let them know that you own the trademarked name. With any type of interaction like this you should provide all documentation you have and perhaps screen shots of the account you are discussing.

Before making your claim, it is important to understand what you are asking for. For more information about the difference between name squatting, impersonation or trademark infringement read this post from how-to-blog.tv, which also includes Twitter’s snail mail address and fax number.

Twitter is always working on releasing all usernames attached to accounts that have been inactive for more than 18 months. An account is considered a squatter if the account hasn’t been logged into or updated for 6 months. An account that has no activity, followers or people they are following can be immediately removed because they are considered squatting. Finding and ousting squatters is a manual process and can take weeks for Twitter to implement.

If you think you deserve a username that looks like it’s being squatted you can submit a request for someone to review the account.

Taking matters into your own hands

In some circumstances people feel it is best to take matters into their own hands. If you want you can contact the user and ask them to drop the name (politely of course). Send them an @ reply or DM (direct message) pleading your case. If you don’t hear from them on Twitter, try following the link to their website and see if there is a better way to talk to someone there.

If you think it would be easier to reach out to the account owner on your own you should also be aware that any attempt to buy, sell or solicit compensation for a Twitter username is also considered a violation of policy and could be grounds for your account being suspended.

Lastly, if you have the people skills to pull it off, here is a Twitter list of staff members at Twitter. With a little time and networking skills you may be able to make a personal connection with someone in-house that can help you resolve your name squatter issue.

Few other things to remember…

  • Try to get there first – Twitter will do its best to do what is right but the easiest way to avoid any of this hassle is to make sure you secure your name first. If you are not ready to take on a full Twitter strategy for your business just set up the account with your information, website, upload a logo and put one post up to secure your name and make sure you aren’t deemed a squatter. For a first post just say ‘Thank you for visiting us on Twitter. We are not quite up and running but if you have any questions please email us at email@company.com’.
  • Keep your username short – Usernames can only be 15 characters long. The longer the username, the harder to RT someones content due to lack of spaces in a standard tweet.
  • Pay someone else to secure your company name – It is possible to secure your company name on social networks with services like Claim.io
  • Check the copyright of a name you want – Before you make a stink, check to make sure someone else doesn’t have the name you want already copyrighted. You can go to the United States Patent and Trademark Office and search for existing trademarks.
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